Saddleworth is a town, was the name of a district council until 1970 and is part of the Saddleworth and Auburn District Council which was formed on 25 June, 1970.

The area was one of several favourably reported on by Edward Eyre, explorer, in 1839. Pastoral leases were taken up shortly afterwards, the area being 90 km. north of Adelaide. The discovery of copper at Kapunda (1842) and at Burra (1844) resulted in a large increase in traffic from Adelaide to those parts. Wayside stopping places at intervals of about 10 km. were established, Saddleworth being one of them. The name came from the Saddleworth Lodge pastoral station, named after the Yorkshire birthplace of the station’s owner, James Masters.

Local government for the Saddleworth area came as a district council in the 1850s, with a separate Saddleworth district council being created on 7 May, 1868. In 1870 the district’s economy was stimulated by construction of the railway from Gawler to Burra. However, the closure of the Burra mines in 1877, coinciding with failing soil fertility, caused declining prosperity. The Australian Handbook, 1875, described Saddleworth as –

. . a township and railway station on the Gilbert river, 671/2 miles north of Adelaide. It is a money-order office and telegraph station. Magor’s (Railway), Ansell’s (Stuart’s), South’s (Exmouth), are the hotels. Methodist and Baptist chapels, Catholic church, institute, mill, and telegraph station. It is well supplied with tradesmen and artizans of all sorts. It is one of the most fertile districts in South Australia. The surrounding country is principally cultivated for wheat, and much land is under cultivation. Population, town and district, 1,188

The application of superphosphate to farm lands helped to restore profitability. By the turn of the century the town had a public institute with a library and Oldfellows and Rechabites lodges. Saddleworth remained a railhead for the Clare district until 1918. Rural employment lessened, however, through enlargement of holdings and mechanisation. Fruit growing and viticulture declined, the latter not reviving (in the Auburn area), until the 1970s with Quelltaler and Taylors. By 1949 The Australian Blue Book recorded of Saddleworth that –

This district lies to the north of Adelaide and its north-western extremity adjoins the fertile district of Clare.

Wheat and wool growing are the main industries, but many fat lambs are also raised in the area.

The township of Saddleworth (population about 600) is situated about 68 miles from Adelaide. It is a thriving little country town and tis establishments include up-to-date business premises, two hotels and chaff mills.

A good bitumen road connects the district with the Capital.

In later postwar years the flour mill, butter and bacon factory, cheese and milk processing factory and fortnightly market saleyards closed, but Saddleworth remained an important collection centre for cereals and crops. Saddleworth and Auburn councils amalgamated on 5 July, 1970. Two general stores, two hotels, a bakery, banks, machinery and other businesses were located in Saddleworth in the 1990s.

Sheep and lamb grazing predominated (160,000 head, 1992), along with 28,000 tonnes of wheat and 19,000 tonnes of barley in 1992, for the whole of the shire.

Saddleworth’s census populations have been 666 (1911), 565 (1954) and 421 (1911). The Saddleworth and Auburn council area’s population in 1991 was 2,223.

Postcard dated April, 1907.
Postcard dated April, 1907.

7 thoughts on “Saddleworth”

    1. Information about the Catholic Church is given in Elinor Bellman’s book “Saddleworth – Hub of the Wheel”, 1995. It is called St Stephen’s and was thought to have been designed by Michael McMullen and built by stonemason Joseph Jones of Auburn. It was opened on 16 January 1869 with Father Aloysius Kranewitter as the first (Jesuit) priest. He ministered until early 1870, when he was replaced by Fr Joseph Tappeiner until 1872. At this time the Jesuit presbytery at Manoora supplied priests for Saddleworth: Fr Joseph Polk (1873-1876)& (1878-82) , Fr Aloysius Kreissel (1876-1884), Fr Charles Deitel & William O’Dowling (1885-7), Br Edmund Maloney (1878, 1884-1886); also Fr A Parch, Carl Handel and Quinn. When the Manoora presbytery was closed in 1890, the Adelaide Diocese took over responsibility for supplying priests to the area. There followed Frs Mark Delahunty, George Pearce, Patrick A Enright, Daniel O’Sullivan, R M I Redden and Dominic Sparkes. Then Fr Patrick Walsh (1950-1951), Fr Thomas Pius Ormonde (1951-1962), Fr Kevin Hay (1962-1974), Fr Patrick Gleeson (1974-5), Fr Thomas Daley (1975-1980), Fr Ruane (1980-1983), Fr William Kelly (1983- ). More info from Adelaide Archdiocese Archives.

  1. I am a descendant of two Saddleworth families…Schofield in 1845 and Dobson in 1849…who went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA at the same at James Masters emigrated to name Saddleworth, South Australia…my family set up textile mills that operated till the 1920’s..

    I will be in SA for the Adelaide Show the first two weeks of September…I would like to visit Saddleworth…and to meet any other relatives…whose families came from that part of Lancashire and Yorkshire..

    1. Hope this is not too late for you. Information about the establishment of the old Saddleworth School can be found in my biography of Ernst Siekmann, one of the founders of Saddleworth. Please refer to this book “From Westphalia to South Australia” (pages 63-65) which may be found in the Saddleworth library, or online through the National Library at You can also refer to Elinor Bellman’s history of Saddleworth in her chapter on Schooling.

  2. I read with interest about Saddleworth. My attention was drawn there by the discovery that my GG Grandfather, William Miller, had a butcher shop there in the 1880’s. I wonder if he left any trace of his life in Saddleworth?

    1. Hi Wayne, Looking through the Saddleworth Hub of the Wheel by Elinor A Bellman William Miller was mentioned that from 1878 he was an owner for short period. The Museum is open tomorrow and I will check to see if there is any further reference to him for you.

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